AT half-time in a gripping, pulsating, rollercoaster Munster Colleges Senior Football Championship final at Fitzgerald Stadium this afternoon, only a very brave or very daft man or woman would have placed a bet on St Brendan’s College, Killarney emerging triumphant.
In deep trouble, they trailed by a whopping nine points to a finely-tuned Tralee CBS side who looked to have one hand on the Corn Ui Mhuirí and the other reaching for the opposite handle.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, on a damp, dour day at the park, it would have taken another very brave or very daft man or woman to place a wager that the Tralee college would emerge victorious.
They looked in dire straits as the Sem kicked point after point after point to eat into the CBS lead as the rampant Killarney boys cut the gap to a bare minimum, 2-10 to 1-12, with the game entering the final quarter.
The Tralee students looked spent. The Killarney lads were full of their pomp after using the gale to their advantage and it seemed only a matter of time before they pressed home their apparent superiority. That seemed particularly the case when skipper Seán Quigley saw his spot-kick brilliantly parried by the feet of agile Sem netminder Eoin Moynihan from Glenflesk.
But, almost faster than it take to tell, Tralee CBS somehow, from somewhere, got an incredible second wind and in a manner normally associated with Roy of the Rovers – or more aptly Hayes of the Rahilly’s – they bulged the Sem net twice in the final seven minutes to bring the silverware to The Green.
The aforementioned Conor Hayes of the Kerins O’Rahilly’s club in Tralee was their hero for it was he that notched the two late goals in the final seven minutes of action to complete a memorable hat-trick and deliver Tralee CBS a first Corn Uí Mhuirí title since 2007.
Tralee made the most of the swirling wind in the first half to go into the dressing rooms 2-10 to 1-4 ahead – their goal coming from Jordan Kissane with Emmet O’Shea converting a penalty for the Sem – but Killarney fought back with a vengeance and with great purpose in the second half.
Ryan O’Grady, Emmet O’Shea, William Shine and Mark Cooper were all on target as Gary McGrath’s side hit eight points without reply but there was a sting in the tail as CBS never gave up on the task at hand and they broker Killarney hearts with the two late goals to run out 4-15 to 1-15 victory.
Ah, the magic of colleges’ football.
St Brendan’s College scorers: E O’Shea 1-6 (0-5 frees, 1-0 pen); R O’Grady 0-5 (0-2 frees, 0-1 45); W Shine 0-2; M Cooper 0-1; P Looney 0-1.
Tralee CBS scorers: C Hayes 3-2; J Kissane 1-3; S Quilter 0-5 (0-2 frees); F O’Brien 0-3 (0-1 free); C Purcell 0-1; D Burns 0-1 (45).
St Brendan’s College: E Moynihan (Glenflesk), R Doyle (Fossa), M Cooper (Dr Crokes), N O’Shea (Dr Crokes), T Doyle (Dr Crokes), T Sparling (Dr Crokes), E Looney (Dr Crokes), E O’Sullivan (Legion), M Lenihan (Dr Crokes), J Kerins (Dr Crokes), R O’Grady (Legion), P Looney (Dr Crokes), W Shine (Legion), D Callaghan (Firies), E O’Shea (Fossa).
Subs: H Buckley (Fossa) for O’Sullivan; C O’Leary (Legion) for Doyle; F Holohan (Rathmore) for E Looney; P O’Leary (Kilcummin) for P Looney.
Tralee CBS: D Burns (Na Gaeil), L Chester (Austin Stacks), E Carroll (Austin Stacks), N Fitzmaurice (Austin Stacks), P White (John Mitchels), A Heinrich (Austin Stacks), R O’Sullivan (Na Gaeil), J Lenihan (Churchill), C Horan (Austin Stacks), J Kissane (Austin Stacks), D Reen (Na Gaeil), F O’Brien (Blennerville) C Hayes (Kerins O’Rahilly’s), S Quilter (Austin Stacks), C Purcell (Austin Stacks).
Subs: S Kennedy (Annascaul) for O’Sullivan; D Moriarty (Ballymacelligott) for Heinrich; C Myers (Austin Stacks) for Purcell.
Referee: J Griffin.
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